Officials encouraging minorities to become organ donors
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Sitting around with his family has never felt so good for Leon Nelson.
“My platform every day is to live, to love and to laugh,” Nelson said.
He's positive, especially after what he's been through and survived.
“The doctors told me I had six months, well probably six months to live,” Nelson said.
He was diagnosed with the unimaginable, which all started with feeling nauseous and tired, swelling and jaundice of the eyes.
“They said I had PSC, which is primary sclerosing cholangitis, which is a rare liver disease,” Nelson said.
He took medicine from doctors to see if it helped.
He says waking up and going to work, without feeling sick, as well as trying to be there for his family, was a struggle.
“You have no energy to do anything. But I pushed every day,” Nelson said.
Two years ago he got on a waiting list, and seven days later his prayers were answered with a new liver.
“My gratitude for being able to live is off the charts…off the charts,” Nelson said.
Unfortunately, there are so many others on waiting lists who never get that chance. Eighteen people die every day waiting for a transplant.
“Every 10 minutes there are new names that are added to the waiting list,” said Amber McGuire of Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates.
McGuire says more than half of those on the U.S. transplant waiting list are minorities.
“Predominantly the African-American community as well as the Hispanic community, and those minority groups are the ones most in need of life-saving organ transplants,” McGuire said.
This week, there was a national push to get minorities to register to be organ donors.
McGuire says she's personally seen lives saved from people willing to be a donor.
“That's the best part of my job, is when I have the opportunity to see two families that are brought together by the ultimate gift, and that is the gift of life through organ donation,” McGuire said.
For Nelson, he was saved by the liver of a 22-year-old woman.
He and his family often wear these shirts that say "Love is the Movement," to carry out her legacy.
He's hoping it too will inspire others to be an organ donor, and possibly save a life.
“You don't know the impact that you may have through you to impact somebody else's life like it's impacted mine,” Nelson said.
Saturday marked the end of National Minority Donor Awareness Week to raise awareness about minority donors.
To learn more about becoming an organ donor, click here.
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